Port Elizabeth’s 2010 turnaround

6 February 2009

Seven months ago, Port Elizabeth’s 2010 World Cup stadium managers, architects, construction workers and other role-players had their faces rubbed in the dirt.

The venue had initially been selected as the only new stadium for this year’s eight-nation Confederations Cup but, from the start, it was clear that it would be a tall order.

The Project 2010 column: Craig Urquhart After a couple of reprieves, Fifa pulled the plug and ruled that the port city had been axed for this key 2010 curtain-raiser. The city’s dreams of building a world-class stadium in record time for the “Festival of Champions” had been dashed.

So there was more than a little irony to 2010 Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan’s visit to the city this week. After all, the city is on track to sign off on South Africa’s first completed stadium for next year’s World Cup. And in just four months, it will be christened with a British Lions tour match.

Jordaan was able to walk on the newly laid pitch and take in a view of a venue that has 40 000 of its 48 000 seats already installed. More than half of the 36 girders that will support the roof have been erected, and the columns, slabs, precast seating, precast raking beams and moat are already complete.

Like every other 2010 stadium, it has come at a price. The initial cost was estimated at R250-million, but this rose to R1.2-billion a year ago and it now stands at R1.95-billion, of which the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality will have to pay 10 percent.

Time will tell whether these stadiums will become white elephants or magnificent symbols of South Africa’s new role as a world-class destination. If the determination of Port Elizabeth’s 2010 organisers is anything to go by, it will be the latter.

Urquhart is a former Fifa World Cup media officer and the current editor of Project 2010